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Starbucks Gets Scalded in Backlash After CEO Criticizes Trump’s Travel Ban EO

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is harming shareholders by damaging the brand he globalized by criticizing President Trump’s executive order on Syrian refugees and travel bans.

Schultz wrote to Starbucks employees on Sunday, January 29, following Trump’s announcement on the previous Friday. The coffee chain CEO issued a broad-based attack against Trump.

The company’s share price has dropped lower (about four percent) following a disappointing earnings announcement and sank deeper (about 3.7 percent) following Schultz’s letter to employees that slammed Trump’s policies.

Schultz’s action serves as a warning to investors that they need to be aware of the CEO’s personal politics and whether the chief executive will create an unnecessary controversy by expressing those views.

Judging by the timing, Schultz let his progressive heart guide a hasty, emotional reaction, ignoring the predictable response by Trump supporters.

His letter said the American Dream is “being called into question” and claimed he was hearing from employees “that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.”

Unleashing his frustration over the new president, Schultz discussed company actions challenging policies that are near and dear to Trump’s supporters.

Schultz expressed actions he is taking to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and mentioned Starbucks employees are “Dreamers.”

He touted the company’s history of hiring refugees and said Starbucks would be “doubling down” on this effort with “plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business.” As part of this effort in the U.S., he wants to employ refugees that support our armed forces.

Under the heading of “Building Bridges, Not Walls, With Mexico,” Schultz discussed the company’s investment in the country, adding the company would support Mexicans affected by trade and restrictions on immigration.

Finally, Schultz said eligible employees would have access to a company health care plan if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

The response to Schultz’s letter was prompt and brutal on social media with posts calling for a boycott.

Facebook posts slammed Starbucks for its intention to hire refugees over American workers and U.S veterans.

Twitter rocked the company as well. Fortune reported #BoycottStarbucks was the top trending topic on Twitter the day after the Schultz letter.

Social media also distributed derogatory cartoons including a Starbucks store rebranded as “ShariaBucks” with a banner “Now Hiring: Muslim Refugees.”

Starbucks responded to the social media onslaught by emphasizing the company has a policy that encourages hiring veterans and active duty spouses.

Despite the company’s effort to respond to critics, its brand is damaged. The social media blitz and news stories labeled Starbucks as putting refugees before veterans.

Starbucks shareholders are paying the price because of Schultz’s inexcusable self-inflicted wound.

You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in political science to realize political passions are running extremely high, and no good can come from taking a position that conflicts with “America first.”

Like many on the Left, Schultz failed to recognize the mood of the country and the political land mines for not thinking about the consequences of his actions.

Schultz’s fumble exposes a management liability at progressive companies. While Starbucks touts diversity as a core value, the celebration of differences doesn’t apply to political thought. In many companies, conservatives are either absent or treated like social pariahs.

Starbucks is especially vulnerable to consumer backlash. First, Schultz previously used his company as his personal political soapbox. He has commented on race and told gun owners not to carry in their stores.

He also told a shareholder to sell his shares because the individual thought Starbucks’ support of a gay marriage referendum in Washington was bad for business.

Unlike Silicon Valley companies that expressed opposition to Trump’s executive order, Starbucks is a consumer product company with viable competing coffee alternatives on almost every corner.

Other progressive CEOs with vulnerable consumer brands have exercised restraint and not exposed their companies to backlash from Trump supporters.

After making a critical comment about Trump following the election, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi — a Hillary Clinton supporter — quickly recovered. She joined the president’s group of business leaders, the Strategic and Policy Forum.

Similarly, Disney CEO Bob Iger, a long-time backer of Hillary Clinton, also joined Trump’s business group.

Nooyi and Iger’s decision to join the Trump Train is recognition that they are putting shareholders before their personal politics.

Starbucks shareholders wish Schultz would do the same. (For more from the author of “Starbucks Gets Scalded in Backlash After CEO Criticizes Trump’s Travel Ban EO” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Starbucks to Become an LGBT ‘Safe Place’

Starbucks announced Wednesday that its Seattle stores are officially “Safe Places” for members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community.

Partnering with the Seattle Police Department’s “Safe Place” program, 97 of Starbucks’ stores in the Seattle area will finish specific employee training early next week on “how to respond to and engage with LGBT victims of violence and effectively report hate crimes to police.”

“Safe Place,” started by openly gay Seattle Police Officer Jim Ritter, is a campaign against bias crimes. Since May, Officer Ritter has spoken with 650 businesses across Seattle, all of whom have supported the campaign, displaying rainbow-badge decals in their windows . . .

Starbucks may serve as precedent for other large companies to support the initiative as well. With 2,000 extra pairs of eyes, Ritter is convinced the program will help “put bullies on notice that they can’t get away with victimizing people.”

Starbucks has shown its support for the LGBT community in other ways recently, raising a gay pride flag at its Seattle headquarters and airing a commercial featuring contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano. (Read more from “Starbucks to Become an LGBT ‘Safe Place'” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

War on Christmas: Starbucks Red Cups Are Emblematic of the Christian Culture Cleansing of the West

Now of course, I have no cause to go to Starbucks, although I can happily admit to shoving a Royale with Cheese into my gob after a particularly frivolous night out.

But I did go this morning, after seeing a Facebook post by a colleague of mine pointing out what Starbucks’ newest “Red Cup” looks like. For those unfamiliar: one of Starbucks’ greatest marketing gimmicks is changing the colour of their cups from white to red every Christmas. I myself remember excitedly declaring to an ex-girlfriend how red cups heralded the beginning of Christmas (sorry, Peter Hitchens) . . .

And what I found was deeply disappointing to 17-year-old, macchiato-chugging me. The Red Cups (do I need a trademark symbol after that?) are now an anti-Christmas symbol, with Starbucks declaring their formerly Christmassy cups to be “holiday beverages” and shedding any sign of Christmas from them . . .

I asked Starbucks why, but they just sent me a “factsheet” with their latest flavours and a link to their website where they’ve talked about wanting “to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories” . . .

You can see what’s going on here. More open? You mean, you’re trying not to “offend” anyone. (Read more from “War on Christmas: Starbucks Red Cups Are Emblematic of the Christian Culture Cleansing of the West” HERE)

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Post Alleging Center City Starbucks Refused to Let Police Sergeant Use Restroom Goes Viral

24905278_BG1A downtown Philadelphia Starbucks is at the center of controversy this weekend after a Facebook post alleging that an employee of the coffee shop refused to allow a uniformed Philadelphia Police sergeant use the restroom went viral.

The post, which does not identify the sergeant involved, says he walked into the Starbucks at 13th and Chestnut streets and asked to use the restroom, for which a key code is required. The employee, according to the post, “State[d] in a loud voice … that the bathroom is for paying customers only.” The post goes on to say that the sergeant asked politely to use the restroom anyway, and that the Starbucks employee declined to grant access.

Officer Joe Leighthardt, who knows the sergeant, was the first to share his fellow officer’s post about the incident, which happened Thursday or Friday of last week. Leighthardt said he personally has been to that Starbucks location several times on calls for service, but never as a customer.

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“I didn’t intend for it to go viral,” Leighthardt said, adding that most people who have responded to the post have been supportive.

In reply to Leighthardt’s post on Starbucks’ official Facebook page, Starbucks wrote in part, “We are aware of this situation, and it is certainly not in line with the experience we want any of our customers to have in our stores. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.” (Read more from “Post Alleging Center City Starbucks Refused to Let Police Sergeant Use Restroom Goes Viral” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Starbucks-Owned Ethos Water Bottling in Drought-Stricken California [+video]

Photo Credit: Daily News

Photo Credit: Daily News

Ethos, the Starbucks-owned water company founded on the principle of helping others, is bottling water in the heart of drought-ravaged California.

At least some of Ethos Water’s supply comes from a plant in Merced, a Northern California city currently experiencing “exceptional drought,” according to a new report by Mother Jones.

Ethos Water was founded in 2002 with a promise to donate to charities working to improve worldwide access to clean water. Starbucks bought the company three years later, and since 2005, the coffee giant has donated 5 cents for every bottle sold to the Ethos Water Fund . . .

Starbucks uses the Merced plant — which processes water collected from private springs in Baxter, about 160 miles north — to supply its West Coast stores, according to Mother Jones. A Pennsylvania water source provides bottles for the East Coast.

Both Merced and Baxter are under an “exceptional drought,” the U.S. Drought Monitor reported. Much of California has been ravaged by the dry spell, which has prompted the state to crack down on water-wasters, impose restrictions across the state and pass appliance efficacy mandates. (Read more from “Starbucks’ Ethos Water Bottling in Drought-Stricken California” HERE)

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Map of Where Starbucks Chose to #RaceTogether in New York Paints a Strikingly Revealing Picture

BucksStarbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign has been met with strong reactions from across the political spectrum.

The response on social media to the company’s push for an “uncomfortable conversation” about race became so intense that a senior executive of the company even went so far as to delete his Twitter account as a response, according to CNN Money (he eventually reinstated it 24 hours later).

With much discussion brought to the campaign and its hashtag – if not the underlying issues of race in America – a closer look at which neighborhoods Starbucks has opened up shop in may reveal a potential disconnect between the $16.4 billion corporation’s social goals and its 14,000 stores.

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For example, the map below shows the northern suburbs of New York City – Rockland and Westchester Counties – with the red dots representing the 36 locations that Starbucks has in the area, and the neighborhoods coded by the racial plurality that lives there.

Not a single Starbucks location is situated in a neighborhood with a plurality black population, despite these areas being more geographically dense. (Read more from “Map of Where Starbucks Chooses to #RaceTogether in New York Paints a Strikingly Revealing Picture” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Starbucks Ends ‘Race Together’ Coffee Cup Campaign, but Now Announces it will Open Shops in Slums

lady with cupStarbucks went from pulling the shots on its controversial “Race Together” campaign to pulling the plug on it after only a week.

Coffee mogul Howard Schultz announced the global corporation’s plan to take its baristas out of the race and diversity campaign that included writing “Race Together” on cups, a decision that was apparently part of its plan from the beginning, a memo stated.

Baristas will no longer be writing “Race Together” on cups starting Sunday.
The bold initiative involved slapping stickers on coffee cups, but it drew criticism for being opportunistic in the wake of Ferguson and even inappropriate for a barista to task such a conversation while making coffee.

“While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise,” CEO Schultz stated. “We leaned in because we believed that starting this dialogue is what matters most.”

The company has no intention of stopping its initiative, as it announced forums to come and the hiring of 10,000 employees from diverse backgrounds to man new coffee shops in disadvantaged urban communities. (Read more from “Starbucks Ends ‘Race Together’ Coffee Cup Campaign” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Starbucks Stands Behind Race Together Campaign Despite Backlash

Starbucks is sticking with an initiative it launched on Monday aimed at sparking discussion about race relations in America even though the effort is being widely criticized in the media and on social networks.

The backlash even caused the brand’s comms leader to quit Twitter early Tuesday.

Starbucks created the campaign “to stimulate conversation, compassion, and action around race in America with the goal of encouraging greater understanding and empathy,” according to an email from Corey duBrowa, SVP of global communications and international public affairs.

Though seemingly well-intentioned, Starbucks bit off more than it could chew with the Race Together initiative, according to some critics in the media, who questioned whether the chain’s employees are qualified or patient enough to have such a sensitive conversation with customers. Others have commented that Starbucks could be trying to capitalize on racial tension in the US.

Despite opposition to the effort, duBrowa, who shut down his Twitter account on Tuesday after being flooded with negative comments, said the brand knew the campaign would be challenging. (Read more from “Starbucks Stands Behind Race Together Campaign Despite Backlash” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Starbucks’ Push to Make Baristas Talk About Race is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

By Jenée Desmond-Harris. Starbucks has launched an initiative to encourage its employees and customers to have conversations about race.

CEO Howard Schultz has given baristas at 12,000 Starbucks locations the option to write the words “Race Together” on customers’ cups and begin discussions about race relations.

The initiative is a partnership with USA Today. Full-page ads in the New York Times and USA Today this week have advertisements supporting the Race Together initiative, and USA Today will include an insert with materials on race designed to spark the desired discussions and a hashtag — #RaceTogether — to publicly share results. According to Starbucks, the plan will be further detailed during Starbucks’ 2015 annual shareholders meeting in Seattle on Wednesday.

According to Starbucks, the Race Together initiative is an outgrowth of the discussion forums the company held in response to the outcry over racially biased policing after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner’s in Staten Island, New York.

It appears to be a reflection of Schultz’s sincere distress over the pain and hostility that often underlies national headlines and controversies related to race and racism. While there is no shortage of tweets making light of the potential pitfalls of the effort, it would be unfair not to note that Race Together is probably an honest attempt on his part to make America better. (Read more from “Starbucks’ Push to Make Baristas Talk About Race Sounds Like It Could Be Disastrous” HERE)

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Starbucks Strikes Up Hot Debate with Two Words They are Serving Up on Their Coffee Cups

By Kyle Becker. Starbucks has hit the next stage of business activism by encouraging baristas to strike up a conversation about race.


How are they going about broaching this delicate subject? By writing “race together” on their coffee cups.

Racial matters are certainly part of a national conversation that Americans should be having with one another.

The issue lies in this case whether or not it’s appropriate for a business to drop a charged conversation about race on customers without being solicited to do so. People go to Starbucks presumably for the coffee – not to be accosted with political issues. (Read more from this story HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Starbucks' First LGBT Ad Features Drag Queens

Photo Credit: AP / Alik Keplicz

Photo Credit: AP / Alik Keplicz

Starbucks is putting its support for the gay lifestyle into its marketing campaign with the release of an ad featuring drag queens.

“Well, here’s one place we certainly didn’t think we’d see the ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Girls’ pop up,” James Nichols wrote in an article for the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section.

The ad features two men dressed as women who were featured in Season Six of the television series “Drag Race,” Adore Delano and Bianca Del Rio.

The “girls” in the video are fighting in line over who gets served first, but in the end the Starbucks server gives them both their order at the same time.

Read more from this story HERE.